Kelly Sotherton: British athlete feels third Olympic medal gives career 'more meaning'

By Phil DawkesBBC Sport
Kelly Sotherton
Kelly Sotherton also won heptathlon bronze at the 2007 World Championships

Kelly Sotherton feels her career has "more meaning" after she was upgraded to a three-time Olympic medallist following retrospective drug tests.

Sotherton, who won heptathlon bronze in 2004, has been given third for the same event in Beijing 2008 after Tatyana Chernova tested positive for a steroid.

In November, the Briton was moved up to bronze in the 2008 4x400m relay after Belarus and Russia's disqualifications.

"Until now I felt my career could have been better," she told BBC Sport.

"I left Beijing in tears because I thought I had failed. But I am a lot happier now because I feel my career has more meaning to it and I am worthy.

"I would swap all three medals for a gold, obviously, but to win three Olympic medals, regardless of what colour they are, is an achievement and I feel very happy about that."

Kelly Sotherton tweet
Kelly Sotherton tweeted this after finding out about her upgraded heptathlon medal

'It isn't just about me'

Sotherton, 40, retired five years ago after failing to recover from a back problem in time to qualify for the heptathlon at London 2012.

She initially finished fifth in the heptathlon in Beijing but climbed to third after the previously announced doping ban of Ukrainian Lyudmila Blonska was followed by that of Russia's Chernova.

After finding out she was to become a three-time Olympic medallist, Sotherton posted an emotional video on social media showing her reaction.external-link

"I am happy but obviously at the same time disappointed to have missed nine years as a three-time Olympic medallist," she said. "You feel all of the emotions in a space of a minute.

"All of my friends and family saw my emotions so they have been emotional when they have messaged me.

"It isn't just about me, it is about the people who support me and were around me at the time. They are happy because they feel like they have won that bronze as well."

'Massive steps made but still more to do'

More than 100 athletes have had positive results in re-tests conducted by the IOC of samples taken during the London 2012 and Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Sotherton's compatriot, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, belatedly won the 2011 World heptathlon title last year when Chernova was similarly stripped of gold for doping.

The 31-year-old, who retired last year and is due to receive her gold medal from Daegu in a special ceremony at the World Championships in London in August, said: "We have made massive steps to becoming a cleaner sport in the past year but there's a lot that needs to be done.

"It's not something that's going to happen in a short amount of time.

"Hopefully we have a fantastic World Championships and we don't have this case of three, four or five years down the line where people are having medals stripped off them.

"I hope as we continue with our sport over the next few years it just gets better and better."

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